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Punishment, setting limits, children’s education


Parents should keep in mind that children tend to superacting, they are actors from very small. What’s wrong, even if the child cries, is still wrong. It is necessary to be clear the limits of what a child in every age should and can do.

  1. The child’s level of development should always be considered at the time of the rules. It is unfair to expect more than the child can do. For example, a 2-or 3-year-old child cannot control the urge to touch the objects, so it is recommended to remove the delicate objects from their range instead of instructing them not to touch them.
  2. Establish the punishment according to the level of development of the child. If you send the child who is starting to walk to his room for more than 5 minutes, the child will completely forget why he was sent, because at this age his ability to concentrate attention is very short. See temporary isolation.
  3. Be consistent. You should not change the rules or punishments by chance. Of course the punishments will change as the child grows, so the child should be explained why the rules changed.
  4. Make sure all caregivers are consistent with the discipline strategy. If one of them accepts certain behaviors while another punishes them, the child is likely to get confused and will eventually learn to play with adults regarding these behaviors.
  5. Don’t forget to be the child’s key model. The more you manage and control your behavior, the more likely the child will learn the patterns of behavior. If he is hurt, the child is being taught that it is acceptable to solve problems with violence.

How to improve discipline

We call «rest time» to a well-proven formula to improve the sense of discipline in children. It consists of putting children in a boring place for several minutes when their behavior is not acceptable. «Rest time» also means not paying attention to them.

Many parents have found that this formula is more effective than screaming or threatening children to improve their children’s behavior. It helps to reduce behavior problems, for example with tantrums.  Some parents say that they have used this formula and that it has not worked. In many cases, the reason it has not worked is because it has been used incorrectly.  It is important that this formula of discipline is used firmly. A small change in the procedure is enough to make it less effective. As always in education perseverance is essential.

Parents should ensure that all other nearby adults involved in their children’s educational tasks, especially grandparents or baby sitters, use the same formula.

The «Rest time» formula described is generally appropriate for children 18 months to 10 years of age.

What types of behavior should «rest time» be used for?

There are three types of problems for which this method should be used:

  1. Children who do not obey the rules of the parents should be given rest time. If the child does not obey what is said in less than five seconds, it must be given rest time. Parents should never give orders they are not willing to enforce. In addition, parents should never give more than one warning before using this technique.  Children learn that parents speak seriously as easily as they learn that parents will give them four or five warnings before they are taken seriously.  However, by giving nothing more than a warning, it results in less frustration and less tantrums!
  2. Children who behave in an unacceptable manner should be given rest time. Children should also be given rest time for any behavior parents decide is not acceptable (e.g. tantrums, hitting, biting, not obeying the rules of the house.) Consistency is very important, so it will be necessary for parents to decide in advance what type of behavior this method will be used for. When parents start using this method, it would be better to focus on one or two behavioral problems.  As these improve, parents can add to their list other behaviors for which this practice will be used. Children should be given rest time each time they behave inappropriately.
  3. Children should be given rest time when they behave in a dangerous way. This method should be used when children do something dangerous.


Choosing a suitable place for «time to rest»

 When parents use rest time for the first time, it is better to have one or two places in the house where to put the children. Here is a plan to choose a place to give rest time.

  • Choose a place away from toys, people, television, radios, windows, or any other kind of distraction.
  • Make sure there are no objects nearby that can be broken.
  • It is better for children to sit in a chair when they are given rest time. The chair should be kitchen type, upright backrest instead of a more comfortable chair or some other expensive furniture. Adult chairs are preferred instead of small chairs. It is easier to determine if the children are not well seated in the adult chairs.
  • Children’s rooms are not typically the best places for resting time. Children’s rooms often have many things that will entertain or amuse them.
  • The best place is often a chair in the hallway, the kitchen, or in the corner of a room.
  • If a separate room is used, do not turn off the lights. This will only scare the children. Don’t use a closet either. The purpose of the rest time is to keep children away from any kind of attention, not to scare them.

Preparing children for «rest time»

Before using the rest time method to discipline, parents should explain this procedure to their children in a way they can understand.  Parents should tell their children that they will use this method to discipline instead of hitting, screaming, or threatening them (or any other technique that parents may be using). Parents should also explain to their children which behaviors will result in rest time. It is useful for children to repeat the procedure. Children should know that there are two rules about resting time:

  1. Children should remain still during the rest time. Parents should tell their children that the rest time will not begin until they are still. Parents should also explain that the rest time will start again if the children talk or make noise.
  2. Children should stay in the chair until they are told they can get off. Parents should explain that if they get off the chair ahead of time, the rest time will start again.

You can’t anticipate that younger children can remember the rules just because the parents told them.  They need to learn the rules by experiencing what happens when they talk during the rest time, or when they get off the chair without permission.  Even older children who already know the rules will not obey them if the parents do not force them.  Would you hold on the temptation to drive your vehicle at high speed, if you knew that the police did not enforce the rules on the speed limit?  After explaining the method of resting time, parents and children should practice.  Parents might tell their children they will pretend as if a rule has been disobeyed. Then parents guide their children as they explain the procedure.  Parents should praise their children after practice.

Sending children to «rest time»

Immediately after an unacceptable behavior occurs, parents must tell the child «because you did (whatever they did), you will go to rest in the chair.  Parents must say this only once. They should say it calmly but with a firm voice.  Parents should never say more than two or three words to tell their children they have to go to rest time. In addition, parents should send their children to rest as soon as the behavior becomes unacceptable.  Parents should not wait until the child is in full tantrum. It is important that parents do not shout or reprehend. They must take things as calmly as possible.

  • Kepp calm
  • Do not lecture, scold or discuss
  • Do not accept any pretext
  • Don’t talk to the kids when they’re on their way to the chair. After having told the child to go to rest, parents should not say anything else until the break is over.
  • If children do not go to rest immediately, parents should use a little of physical help (e.g. take the child by the hand and tke him/her to the chair). If the child resists, the parent can lift him/her (without looking directly in the eyes) and can take him/her to the chair.
  • Parents must ignore the cries, the protests, and the promises that the children will behave

What to do while children are in «Rest Time»

When parents start using this method, most children will scream and cry. This is normal, and parents should ignore it. This will happen in no time.  It is critical that everyone ignores the child who is resting. If the brothers or sisters disturb the child who is resting, they must be given rest too.  No one should talk or look at the child who is resting. All protest and riots must be ignored. A lot of kids say things like «I like to sit here.»  Ignore this. (They’re just trying to irritate parents). As long as the child has rest time, parents should try to continue with their normal activities.  You don’t have to wait until the break is over. The child needs to see that other family members do not mind the time of rest.

It is recommended that parents use a portable kitchen clock to maintain the counting of rest times. Until the child is still and seated in the chair, parents must not start the clock for the given time.  Generally speaking, it is recommended that the breaks be one minute for each year of age up to a maximum of five minutes.  During this time the child should remain still. If the child starts talking or making noise to attract attention, the watch should start again.   Parents should not lecture or remind the child to remain silent. The child will learn the lesson when he sees his parents starting the clock again.  It may be necessary to restart the watch several times before the child learns to be still for the entire time. Parents should never end the rest time while the child is talking, shouting or crying.  If the child gets up from the chair ahead of time, the parents should immediately say «NO» with a serious voice and put it back in the chair.  Then you must start the clock again. They shouldn’t talk to the kid. They should do this every time the child gets off the chair.  If the child gets off the chair as the parents approach, just start the clock again.  If parents follow these steps carefully, it will take only a few days for the child to remain in the chair steadily.  If the child continues downloading from the chair, parents should consult with the child’s health care provider.

What to do when «Rest Time» ends

After the child has been still and seated for the given time, the clock will sound. This does not mean that the child can get off the chair. Parents determine if the child can get off or not.

When the clock rings, parents should ask the child if he or she is ready to get off the chair. If he/she say yes, parents should tell the child that the rest time is over.  If the child says no, (or if the child is still angry), parents should just walk away and start the clock again.  Do not lecture or annoy the child about the reason for which he was given rest time. If the child was sent to rest for failing to obey instructions (e.g. He didn’t keep his toys when he was told), parents should give him the same instruction as soon as the rest time ends.  If the child obeys, the parents should say something positive (I like the way you do what I say.)  If the child does not obey, the parents should repeat the rest time procedure. It may take several times for the child to learn that parents are serious.

As the rest time ends, it is important for parents to take into account and praise the good behavior of their children. Remember, parents should take into account when children behave well.

Using «Rest Time» away from home

It is recommended that parents use rest time only at home until both parents and children learn the procedure.  When children meet their breaks consistently, and without much fuss, parents can start using the method away from home.  In places where there are no chairs available, parents can use other alternatives such as stopping the child in a corner or sitting on a tier or step, or stopping on a floor tile.  Remember, parents should never leave their children alone in public places.

When children behave well

One of the most critical factors for this method to work is what happens when children behave well. It is very important that parents do not adhere to the good behavior of their children. Parents should let their children know through praise and physical samples of affection that they recognize their good behavior.

Congratulate your children when they behave well! 


The modified punishment of staying at home

Many parents use the punishment to make their children stay at home as a technique for disciplining older children.  But, when parents make their children stay home for a long time, (eg, several weeks or more) they often lose their effectiveness because there is little incentive for children to behave well during this period.  In addition, when parents punish their children for a long time, they often cede and reduce punishment because it causes problems in the family. When this happens, children learn that their parents do not force the punishment they have dispensed.

The modification to the punishment of children staying at home includes severe and mild punishment but the child has the option of earning his forgiveness by completing a task. This technique is suitable for older children (ex: 10 to 16 years).

  • Set up a list of jobs.  The first step is to sit down with your children and develop a list of 10 to 15 jobs that have to be done in the house. Do not sit down and discuss this with your child if he or she has been punished. Choose a time when the child is well behaved to discuss the discipline method and generate the task list.  These tasks should take good time to complete (at least 1 or 2 hours). Homework must be something kids can do.  For example, washing the windows of the house, cleaning the garage, and cleaning the bathroom.
  • Write each description on a splint. The next step is to write down the description of each task in a splint. This description must include exact details required to complete the task satisfactorily. For example, to clean the garage you need to overcook things, clean cobwebs from the ceiling, sweep the floor, shake and wash the floor, and organize things.  If some tasks are a little short, it is possible to combine tasks so that all jobs require more or less the same amount of time to complete them.
  • Explain the procedure. Once the list is complete, you should tell your children that if they misbehave, to the extent that the punishment is necessary, this method will be used. Immediately after misconduct you should tell the child that he/she is punished and take a card with a task. Your child will be punished until the job is complete and apparently the father.  For behavior that is particularly bad, you can choose two or more cards.
  • Define what the punishment to stay at home means. This punishment is severe and means staying in your room, (or the right room) except to go to school, meals, or chores. During the punishment, there should be no television, video games, no radio, no visits, no phone, no reading, except school books, and no social activities.  If the family is planning to go somewhere, the services of a babysitter should be hired so that the punished child stays at home while parents and other family members can go where they need to go.
  • Explain rules just once. It is critically important that you do not annoy your children about the tasks that need to be done. The rules of the punishment must be explained only once.
  • Inspect your child’s work. Once the child has completed the job, he or she should advise you to have their work inspected. If the child has done a good job, it is important to praise him and inform him that he has done good work and that the punishment is over.  If the job did not do well, briefly explain the aspects of the work that have not been done well. Specifically explain what needs to be done to complete the task.  Try to explain the necessary corrections in a casual way, without hassling, lecturing, or getting angry.

When you use this method to discipline, your child earns his way out of punishment. So the child determines how long the punishment will last.  This can last for a few hours or several days. If the punishment lasts longer than several days, it is important to investigate whether the punishment is properly enforced (e.g. they may be using hidden television or radio).

This modification to the punishment of staying at home can be a very effective method for disciplining older children (from 10 to 16 years old). But, it is critical that parents remember to praise and make positive comments when children behave well.  As with other methods of discipline, the punishment of staying at home will be effective only if there is a positive and affectionate relationship between parents and children.



When you notice that your child is starting to get nervous, try to divert attention to a new activity. If the child cannot be distracted, then it is recommended to ignore him.  When the adult reacts to his rage explosions, he is rewarding the child’s negative behavior with extra attention. Scolding him, punishing him, or even trying to reason with the child can only motivate him to act more.  If you are in a public place, simply remove the child from the discussion or riot and wait for him to calm down to retake activities.  If the tantrum involves bumps, bites, or other harmful behavior, it should not be ignored.  However, it should not to overreact, but rather immediately explain him why he doesn’t have to behave that way.  He should be removed from the place for a few minutes and not forget that the child cannot understand complicated explanations, so you should not try to reason with him.  The punishment must be immediate, because if you wait too long to do so, the child will not associate the punishment with the behavior.


Behavioral problems

Teenagers and their parents often complain about each other’s behavior. Parents often feel that they have lost any kind of control or influence over their children.  On the other hand, teenagers, at the same time who want their parents to be clear and provide them with a structure and limits, take to wrong any restriction on their growing freedoms and in the ability to decide on themselves.  Disagreements are frequent, as the young person struggles to forge an independent identity. Although all this is quite normal, the truth is that the situation can reach a point where parents really lose control, not knowing where their children are, who they are or what is happening to them.  Experience suggests that teenagers are more likely to have problems if their parents don’t know where they are. Therefore, it is important that they allow their parents to know where they are going, although it is also advisable that their parents take the trouble to ask.


School problems

Teenagers who refuse to go to school often have difficulty separating from their parents, and this problem may have the origin in primary school. This problem may also be manifested in the form of pain, such as headaches or stomach ache.  In the case of a teenager who does not want to go to school it is necessary to check the possibility that he is being harassed by some of his companions.  Bullying is a common problem that young people find difficult to talk about and can make going to school a lonely, miserable, threatening experience that can eventually lead to problems of the kind of anxiety and depression, lack of self-confidence, and difficulty making friends.  The way parents are able to help them is to make sure that the school has an effective antiharassment policy, and to inform their child’s teachers when they need help.

Those who go to school and do steers are usually unhappy at home and are frustrated at school and so often spend their time with others who feel the same way.  Emotional problems often affect school performance. It is difficult to concentrate properly when you are concerned about yourself or what is happening at home.  Although the pressure to do well and to pass the exams usually comes from parents or teachers, teenagers usually want to do well and press themselves if given the opportunity.  Overemphasizing this can be counterproductive. Exams are important, but they should not be allowed to dominate their lives or make them unhappy.

Problems with the law

Most young people do not violate the law and those who do are usually males. When they do, they usually do it only once.  Repeated offenses may reflect a family culture, although they may also be the result of unhappiness or emotional distress. It is necessary to rule out the presence of these disorders before a teenager who repeatedly gets into trouble.

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